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Procida: Daily life is best seen on 2 wheels

By SANDRA JONTZ | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 9, 2010

OK, so it might not be the most comfortable (on the rump, at least) way to see the enchanting island of Procida. But touring by bike can be the ideal way to take in the beautiful nooks and crannies, narrow streets and pretty landscaping of the southern Italian resort island.

The smallest of the three islands off the Neapolitan coastline, coming in third in size and popularity to its more famous sisters, Capri and Ischia, Procida remains a quaint and quick getaway from the hustle of Naples.

Though a short ferry ride from the city, the island is untarnished by throngs of tourists, which also means it’s affordable.

While Procida might be the flattest of the three islands, a primary hill leading visitors inland and away from the main port (where bike rental shops and tourist offices are found) can be a bit demanding at first, especially in the wrong gear. Oops.

But keep pedaling, and once you crest that hill, the tour-by-pedal of the 1.6-square-mile island, created by volcanic eruptions, meanders through mosaics of pastel-colored buildings, decorated by colorful and fragrant gardens.

If you don’t tote your own wheels, bike rentals are available for 10 euros a day from Procida Tour. (The shop manager said that while they’re not the only bike rental shop on the island, they are the best.)

To say the streets of Procida are narrow is like saying Antarctica is cold. It is, perhaps, the sole drawback to biking the island. The roads are tiny. And used. Not just by cars, but compact city buses making their island rounds. Oh, and there are no bike lanes. So frequent pull-offs into the occasional driveway, onto side streets or into crannies are in order to let traffic pass.

Yet, that’s part of the charm of biking on the island, which rivals its sister islands in beauty and charm.

The island’s inhabitants are deeply rooted in tradition, and officials and residents alike have worked to conserve the island’s authentic state, from the unique vaulted buildings that originally served as winter boat shelters to the multicolored homes and buildings that spruce up the muted tan of the tufa rock.

Directions: Daily ferries leave ports of Naples and Pozzuoli. There are three ferry companies, with most boats leaving from Pozzuoli, usually every hour.

Times: Procida Tour (where bikes can be rented) opens at 9 a.m. and closes about 6 p.m. — with a mid-afternoon lunch break.

Costs: Ferry costs vary, but the average fare is 5.50 euros a person one way for the 40-minute ride to the island. Bike rental from Procida Tours is 10 euros per bike per day.

Food: Take your pick of any restaurant, pizzeria, sandwich shop, on and on and on.

Information:More information on ferry schedules can be found at www.procidatour.it/en/poraritraghetti.asp, in English. Information on island activities and the Procida Tour can be found at www.procida.biz, in Italian.

Some of Procida's streets are perilously narrow, which means biking them (when shared with cars and city buses) can be an adventure, to say the least.
SANDRA JONTZ/STARS AND STRIPES

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